How Retractable Patio Awnings Work

Retractable patio awnings are a popular and convenient way to protect you and your possessions while you are sitting outside, having a barbecue, or hosting an outdoor party. You can enjoy the weather and breeze but without the hot sun in summer, or an inconvenient shower of rain. 

Retractable awnings mean that you can move it in and out. The awning rolls up into the cassette that protects it from the weather when not in use. Canvas types work similarly to roller blinds with spring tension. Aluminum types roll up into the cassette, pushed by arms on the sides of the window. 

Both manual and motorized systems usually come in canvas, but occasionally, aluminum. There are a variety of awnings available and they work in different ways. 

Some types of awning have posts or poles to hold it out. These can be a danger as people, especially children can run into them. Some have support arms that take the weight of the canvas and hold it high so people cannot run into it. 

There are Two Types of Retracting Arms: 

Articulated Arms

These open by stages by extending the spring-loaded first arms, then unfurling the others. Sometimes these arms unfold automatically, and some are manually opened after the awning opens. These are the most common awning arm option. 

Telescopic Arms

These have gas-filled cylinders and telescopic arms. Telescopic arms have a higher maintenance value as the gas can leak in time and have to be refilled. These arms can only be used on smaller patio awnings. 

There are Two Types of Retractable Patio Awnings:

Manual Awnings 

Manually operated awnings have a simple, removable, handle or crank that is used to wind up the awning. Most manual awnings use a crank to roll them up, but there are some that fold up and lay back against the wall, at the top of the window. These have articulated arms. The crank can be located externally or internally. 

Motorized Awnings 

Motorized awnings use a motor to wind the awning when you push the button, like a garage door. The motor is housed in a case or cassette that is attached to a wall. Don’t worry, these also come with a manual override for if there is a malfunction or you lose power. When the button is pushed, the motor spins quietly in the direction it needs to go to open or close the awning.

Some brands of motorized awning come with weather detector sensors and will automatically roll up if they sense wind, or unroll if they sense sun.

The problem with motorized awnings is that they can be high maintenance and need repairs a lot more often than their manual counterparts. 

The canvas used in retractable awnings is resistant to sun and fading, it also has some waterproofing which protects anything under it from showers. New canvas is fairly maintenance free but in time can crack and tear, needing replacement. Always wind up your awnings in windy weather as they can tear and the arms can get damages, causing a high repair bill.